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5 posts from August 2008

August 20, 2008

50 reasons to stop using plastic shopping bags

MSN.com, 07.17.08

Shouldn't we all, with the price of oil - yes, they're made with oil - and environmental worries, be moving to reusable shopping bags and bins? Plastic shopping bags are a blight, and they never - for all practical purposes - go away.

Like that cool site that tracks the growth of the U.S. national debt, Reusable Bags shows the growing number of plastic bags used around the world. It's almost 1 million every minute.

Link: 50 reasons to stop using plastic shopping bags

August 06, 2008

VIDEO CLIP: Plastics are Forever

The Cleanest Line - Patagonia, 08.05.08

Maui native Micah Wolf teams up with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and photographer Ben Moon to create this powerful music video that empowers us to do something about the amount of plastics in our oceans.

MULTIMEDIA: Laysan Albatross & Plastics - A Deadly Diet

Monterey Bay Aquarium, 06.01.08Albatross_montereybay_2

Of 500,000 albatross chicks born each year on Midway Atoll, about 200,000 die of starvation. The awful truth—in their searches of the ocean surface, albatrosses mistake plastic trash for food and end up feeding Lego blocks, clothespins, plastic bag bits and a host of other man-made junk to their chicks. As a result, the large amount of plastic crowding the chick’s stomach leaves little room for food and liquid. The amount of plastic floating in our oceans has grown dramatically over the last fifty years. Anthony L. Andrady, a polymer chemist at the Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina says that plastic takes decades to break down on land, but even longer at sea because the water keeps the plastic cool and algae blocks ultraviolet rays. “Every little piece of plastic manufactured in the past 50 years that made it into the ocean is still out there somewhere.”

Link: Laysan Albatross & Plastics - A Deadly Diet 

Plastic Island - Nasty, Gargantuan & Growing

ReusableBags.com, 08.01.08 Latimes_alteredoceans_3

A couple of websites recently caught our attention, each detailing the Sci-Fi-esque (but very real) floating plastic island located approximately 500 nautical miles off the California coast. "The island" is a grotesquely large patch of floating plastic trash held together by currents stretching across the northern Pacific almost as far as Japan. Discovered by Charles Moore, this "plastic island" is made up of about 7 billion pounds of plastic garbage.

Sea preserves a plastic plague - LA Times 08.03.07

The LA Times produced a fantastic five-part multimedia series on the state of our altered oceans. Part four delves into the “plastic island”, officially called a gyre. This disturbing presentation features great videos, haunting photography and lots of helpful information.
Link: Sea preserves a plastic plague

Plastic patch in pacific grows to twice the size of the US - Daily Kos 02.06.08

Another great site investigating this mess is the Daily Kos. They feature an interview with Marcus Eriksen, one of the research directors at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (the same folks sailing the “Junk Raft”). Eriksen said: "The original idea that people had was that it was an island of plastic garbage that you could almost walk on. It is not quite like that. It is almost like a plastic soup. It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size as continental United States."
Link: Plastic patch in pacific grows to twice the size of the US

The trash vortex - Greenpeace International 11.12.06Greenpeace_trash_vortex

Greenpeace created this cool, simple visual explaining “the island”—“Plastic trash and other flotsam that is either directly thrown or washed by rivers into the North Pacific, is swept up by the currents of a gigantic swirling vortex called the North Pacific Gyre. In the centre, the calm, just northeast of Hawai’i the result is a trash carpet that scientists calculate has now reached the size of Texas.”
Link: The Trash Vortex

Our Take: There is a similarity between this huge plastic island in the middle of the ocean and the enormity of plastic bag consumption. Scientists can't agree on the size of "the island" just like no one knows exactly how many plastic bags are being produced and consumed. The one thing everyone agrees on is that the scale of both is huge and deserves our attention. This "island" is the direct effect of our overconsumption. By achieving a significant reduction in use-and-toss items, we can actually make a difference. 

August 02, 2008

City council approves bag fee, foam ban

The Seattle Times, 07.29.08Seattletimes_bag_fee_approved_2 

On Monday, the City Council [of Seattle] approved a 20-cent fee, starting in January, for each disposable paper or plastic bag used at grocery, drug and convenience stores. While other U.S. cities have banned plastic bags, Seattle is believed to be the first to discourage use by charging a fee. Although the new fee may force Seattle residents to permanently alter their shopping habits, council members said the environmentally correct behavior will become natural, just like recycling.

The city plans to give at least one free, reusable bag to each household, and the council directed Seattle Public Utilities to come up with a plan by the end of November on how to provide extra bags to low-income residents.

Our Take: This is major news. Seattle is the first U.S. city to follow Ireland's lead in implementing a successful plastic bag fee model. We are confident that Seattle residents will alter their shopping habits quickly - reusable shopping bags will become an integrated part of life in the Emerald City and plastic bag overconsumption will disappear. Seattle City Councilmember, Tim Burgess said it best - "I think that after a few months of legislation, we will wonder what all the fuss is about."

Watch for the plastic bag industry to violently attack this fee based model since it represents the beginning of a paradigm shift.

Link: City council approves bag fee, foam ban